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SADC troops to remain

South Africa said on Friday there were no immediate plans to withdraw Southern African Development Community (SADC) troops from the Lesotho mountain kingdom.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs told IRIN: “There are constant evaluations, but at this stage there are no plans to withdraw the troops.”

SADC was asked by the Lesotho authorities to intervene last September to help put down an anti-government rebellion, and troops from South Africa and Botswana were sent in. The spokesman said Pretoria wanted to be sure that the security situation had stabilised ahead of the election in Lesotho scheduled for early next year.

A South African newspaper, ‘The Sowetan’, this week quoted an opposition spokesperson in Lesotho calling for the withdrawal of SADC troops for their alleged involvement in drug smuggling and other criminal activities.

A spokesperson for the South African Defence force told IRIN the allegations against SADC troops were viewed “very seriously”, but action could only be taken once an investigation had taken place and formal charges and complaints had been registered.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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